Bible Class

Regarding the approval of Bible classes in Texas:

bibleclass.jpg

Discuss!

(Cartoon by Ben Sargent)

  • Darryl

    Ah, I see that the Asshole of the Union is at it again. Yes, the Lone Star State, fount of all that is backward, idiotic, and bizarre. It never leaves me long wondering what I might find to ridicule next. Remember the Alamo!

  • Wes

    Hopefully the ACLU and AU are watching closely for constitutional violations. It seems inevitable that some podunk town in Texas is gonna use this as an excuse to turn public schools into Sunday school. Hell, even before the Texas board passed this nonsense Odessa, TX, had already tried to indoctrinate kids with that NCBCPS crap, which was just fundamentalist claptrap disguised as a “Bible as literature” course (much as in Louisiana where creationism is being pushed into schools disguised as “academic freedom”).

    All this crap for a god. Just thinking of all the time and resources wasted every year in legal and political battles over a nonexistent being, instead of being spent on real issues like disease or poverty or scientific research, makes me sick to my stomach. We’re such a ridiculous species.

  • TheDeadEye

    Everytime I hear that song now, I think of splicers. Now where did I put that plasmid…

  • Justin jm

    Speaking of Texas, can anybody explain why most of the Bible Belt states happen to be former Confederate states? Is that just a coincidence or does religion play a greater-than-average role in the history of the Deep South?

  • Gabriel

    This looks like it will be the same type of crap. It will go on for awhile. There will be a series of lawsuits and it will be stopped. The liars who pretend they give a damn about children will hold press conferences on the courthouse steps saying that this is why we have so many problems in the world today. If there are any school shootings they will blame it on the lack of christianity in school.

    The best reason I have for the connection between confederate states and bible belt states is poverty. The largest draw of religion is the promise of a better life. If not in this world then in the next. I was involved in church for about 9 years. As best I could tell church attendance was driven by poverty and ignorance. Sure you might be poor, you might not understand what was going on around you. The world might not make any sense at all and it might scare you to death but you knew that almost everyone you met was going to burn for eternity in hell and you were going to heaven for an eternity of happiness.

    The old confederate states were based on an economy of slavery. This allowed a tiny minority to be wealthy and the vast majority to be very poor and ignorant. Slavery is illegal and uncommon in the U.S. today but the basic economic structure of the bible belt states is the same. You have a small minority with power and wealth. The majority of people are poor, ignorant and scared. So they go to church, or shamans or crystal healers, etc. etc. etc.

    Damn I’m depressed. I’m going to pick some mint from my herb garden and make a mojito.

  • Adam Nunez

    To any one making the bold accusation that all the people of Texas are ignorant, redneck, republicans, I ask you kindly to shut the —- up. My name is Adam Nunez, I am a resident of the great state of Texas, and I am an Atheist.

  • SarahH

    I think Gabriel’s right on the money about the Bible-belt/history implications.

    I wish schools could offer a comprehensive ‘religious studies’ or ‘religious history’ class (that would fall under social studies) taught by someone who would teach students about world religion/culture instead of teaching them religion as fact or teaching about only one religion.

    I would have absolutely no problems with that. This Texas clusterfuck, OTOH, seems destined for a long series of court proceedings and only mixed messages and wasted tax dollars as far as the students are concerned.

  • Nancy

    I would love to see a “comparative religions” course taught in high schools. Learn about christianity, Islam, Shintoism, Buddhism, Judaism. Show likeness, differences, origins, beliefs. I think it could be a most interesting class.

  • Desert Son

    As another resident of Texas, allow me to put forth that it looks like it’s our week to make a dumb call on a social policy issue, and rest assured a good many of us are displeased with this sort of thing. Given time, it’ll be another stretch of territory in the 50 itching to take center stage on issues that strike close to our collective sense of keeping gods out of government.

    In the meantime, for the naysayers, I’d invite you all to visit and stay awhile. Instead of wasting all that good energy bitching about how much Texas makes your blood boil, why don’t you come on down and help those of us fighting the good fight change this state for the better?

    As Mr. Lovett has indicated, “That’s right, your not from Texas, but Texas wants you anyway.” ;)

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Darryl

    Adam Nunez, please pull your head out of that dark place and pay closer attention to what people write before you go off half-cocked. You might ponder the difference between individual and corporate action. Some of my favorite bloggers are from your state, however, I have never lacked for vindication in all my years of heaping scorn upon the uncivilized deeds of Texas.

  • http://liberalfaith.blogspot.com/ Steve Caldwell

    Justin jm wrote:

    Speaking of Texas, can anybody explain why most of the Bible Belt states happen to be former Confederate states? Is that just a coincidence or does religion play a greater-than-average role in the history of the Deep South?

    The need for Biblical literalism and the use of authority/tradition comes in part from the history of slavery in the former Confederate states.

    It’s worth checking out this article from the Ontario Consultants for Religious Tolerance web site on the Bible and slavery:

    http://www.religioustolerance.org/sla_bibl.htm

    This Bible-authority-tradition set of attitudes have bled over from their original defense of slavery to other areas such as sex education, sexual orientation, gender roles and equality, etc.

  • Ron in Houston

    The “Bible Belt” really has more to do with the influence of the Southern Baptist religion than anything else. The Southern Baptist influence even carried over into other religions. Thus, you have Southern Methodists who are much more conservative than other Methodist churches.

    And Darryl, yes, I live in a county that has put more people on death row than the whole rest of the United States. Even with that kind of crazy crap going on down here, Texans still have great amounts of regional pride.

  • cipher

    I’d add that (as someone else pointed out here recently) Reconstruction had a lot to do with it. After the war, the South was largely in ruins, then the carpetbaggers and corrupt bureaucrats ran it even further into the ground. I think it could be argued that it has never fully recovered.

    I agree with Ron about the Baptists, and I’d suggest that it’s partly a power struggle as well. The old North/South rivalry has never really gone away, and I think they see the church/state separation issue as yet another example of the North trying to impose its will.

    Plus, a lot of this takes place in small towns and rural areas – although, this time, as the article makes clear, it’s state-wide:

    Mark Chancey, associate professor in religious studies at Southern Methodist University, has studied Bible classes already offered in about 25 districts. His study found most of the courses were explicitly devotional with almost exclusively Christian, usually Protestant, perspectives. It also found that most were taught by teachers who were not familiar with the issue of separation of church and state.

    Yep.

  • cipher

    Regarding North/South conflict and power issues, I meant to add that most (if not all) of the Senators and Reps involved in the conservative takeover of Congress in the nineties came from Confederate states. There’s just a lot of anger and resentment there, and I don’t believe that it will ever go away.

    Gore Vidal has been suggesting for years that the US should Balkanize. I think it may be a very good idea. The various regions have little in common, culturally, and we’re finished as a world power anyway. Frankly, as a resident of the godless liberal Northeast, I’m tired of worrying about the antics of Southern Baptists in Louisiana and Texas. We can retain a national government for the purposes of minting currency, national defense, etc., but crap like this could be handled at the local level.

  • Gabriel

    This just points out how important it is to get involved in politics at the local, county and state level. This can have a much larger impact than national politics.

    Also are there any atheists, agnostics, or skeptics in the Wichita Falls area or Texas? I’m looking to make contact with some rational people.

  • Ron in Houston

    I think people run the risk of way too much regional stereotyping.

    While Houston is home of Lakewood Church that meets every Sunday in the old Houston Rockets basketball arena, it’s also a highly diverse cultural city. I honestly never know what language I’ll hear when I go into a local McDonalds.

    Austin while not as culturally diverse as Houston is as liberal as many cities in California.

    Sure in between you’ve got rural areas, but I don’t think our rural areas are any worse than in places in the Midwest or even states up North.

  • cipher

    Hey, Ron, what’s the deal with El Paso? I watched a documentary on PBS the other day about the controversy over a huge statue they put up in honor of a conquistador. Apparently, the guy was a real bastard – pillaging, plundering, mutilation, the works. It cost millions, some of it in public funds, the native Americans were horribly upset, and the white community basically told them to “get over it” (one woman actually said that). I couldn’t believe how clueless and insensitive they were; it was like a throwback to the pre-60′s era. Are they really regressive there?

  • cipher

    Lakewood Church is Joel Osteen, right? He’s about the least offensive televangelist there is!

  • Gabriel

    In my experience El Paso is a hell hole. But I’be only been there a couple of times. What I saw was a terribly poor city. Crushing, grinding poverty.

  • cipher

    Yeah, they showed some of that. There was one city councilman, of Hispanic ancestry, who was campaigning for re-election, and they followed him for a bit as he went door-to-door. They showed the conditions in the “ethnic” part of the city, and he suggested that the money that went toward the statue could have been spent on a lot of other things. I think, if they had built a hospital, a community center, even a playground for the kids (which was needed), and put the conquistador’s name on it, it wouldn’t have upset people nearly as much. But the white people had to have their monument to power.

    In the end, the white community voted the guy out of office.

  • Jason

    Gabriel: shoot me an email, you’ve got my email address. :-p

  • moralfinite

    Isis – Ra -EL

    Is -ra -el

    If the teachers formally told the students:
    1. I, the teacher, do not know Hebrew or Greek.

    2. I, the teacher, lack historical knowledge regarding pagan words (ie: christos, messiah, anointed) used at that time.

    3. I, the teacher, will use whatever strategy possible to convert you to my interpretation of the scripture because I believer in a ghost/holy ghost.

    IF 1-3 THEN STUDENT COULD CHOOSE IF THEY WANTED THAT TYPE OF TEACHER. By refusing to disclose this info, the teacher is fooling the student.
    See my point? moralfinite

  • Blue in Texas

    cipher said:
    Gore Vidal has been suggesting for years that the US should Balkanize. I think it may be a very good idea. The various regions have little in common, culturally, and we’re finished as a world power anyway. Frankly, as a resident of the godless liberal Northeast, I’m tired of worrying about the antics of Southern Baptists in Louisiana and Texas. We can retain a national government for the purposes of minting currency, national defense, etc., but crap like this could be handled at the local level.

    Well, that’s all well and good, except I’m stuck here in Texas with the yahoos due to my husband’s job (I’m allowed to say that because I have a lot of Texan relatives, btw!). We’d love to move back to the northeast, but please protect me with federal laws until then!

    I recently read a book called “The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox” that argues that even though the south lost the “War Between the States,” they have been winning the cultural battle ever since. (NB: As the Democratic convention gets ready to commence with a non-denominational prayer….we are beginning to bow to the religious pressure from the right and moderates.)

  • Darryl

    Gore Vidal has been suggesting for years that the US should Balkanize. I think it may be a very good idea.

    When you consider that 11 mostly-rural and conservative states have tied up the Congress since Nixon and kept us from making real progress, such an idea is appealing. In my view the South was never reconstructed. The war between the States was sublimated into a cultural war that goes on till now.

    I think people run the risk of way too much regional stereotyping. While Houston is home of Lakewood Church that meets every Sunday in the old Houston Rockets basketball arena, it’s also a highly diverse cultural city. I honestly never know what language I’ll hear when I go into a local McDonalds. Austin while not as culturally diverse as Houston is as liberal as many cities in California. Sure in between you’ve got rural areas, but I don’t think our rural areas are any worse than in places in the Midwest or even states up North.

    Of course, but what’s the end product? What happens in Texas is like what has happened in the Nation in the last 8 years: a whole lot of good can get swamped by a whole lot of bad, and the policy outcomes are what matter. We can’t unmake a war, we can’t undo crimes against humanity, we can’t untorture prisoners, we can’t ask for the money back that was given to faith groups by the Administration, and on and on, hell, we can’t even impeach anybody! We can’t reverse all the fraud perpetrated upon us by the mortgage industry and the banks and Wall Street.

    Considering its latest acts, what does the U.S. have to be proud of these days? What sense is there in “regional pride” in Texas in the face of its latest corporate acts? How about a little healthy shame once in a while?

  • Ron in Houston

    Darryl

    I think the shame is that more people care about what goes on in “American Idol” than in the American educational system.

    I have a healthy amount of shame for things done in my state as well as things done in my country. I just don’t believe these things really show the true state of the people in my state or country. Besides, I’m optimistic that the tide is turning.

  • cipher

    Besides, I’m optimistic that the tide is turning.

    Yes, but you also think Hemant is God!

  • http://www.religiouscomics.net Jeff

    Well the South (including Texas) is getting a little better with every generation. There is an outside chance that Virginia (my state) might even go for Obama this time around.

  • Desert Son

    Ron in Houston put it nicely when he mentioned the diversity of Texas and the diversity of other states. Ohio, Kansas, Oklahoma, Missouri, Idaho, Arizona, Florida, Kentucky, Michigan, Indiana have all had their fair share of regional difficulties related to church/state issues, or other questions of civic justice, and nonetheless have plenty of citizens of good character striving to make their state a better place. His analysis of the prevalent influence of Southern Baptists is right on, as well, in terms of the Bible Belt and connected regions.

    As to the El Paso issue, I can speak to that a little bit. I was born and raised there, though I live in a different part of Texas now after living elsewhere in the U.S. for 16 years.

    As a border town, El Paso has always suffered economically, as many border locations inevitably do when two vastly different economies like the United States and Mexico meet, and the city has some tremendously poor areas. Like other cities, it also has rich areas, plus one of the largest active military bases in the United States (Fort Bliss), and diverse economic interests, including some agrarian, but primarily mining/ore production, textile manufacturing (in close operation with Ciudad Juarez just across the border), natural resource production, and so forth.

    It’s high desert country settled right on the Rio Grande river valley, and it has a major pollution problem. For years the big issue was Asarco refinery, but with environmental curtails imposed by the United States, that was brought more into control. Another major pollution issue in El Paso is proximity to Ciudad Juarez in Mexico. Ciudad Juarez doesn’t have the same environmental strictures that the U.S. does, but it’s literally next door, so prevailing winds can run up out of the Chihuahua desert and blow Juarez’ pollution into El Paso, severely affecting air quality. What’s more, by the time the Rio Grande gets to El Paso, it’s absolutely filthy, but that’s entirely in the hands of the United States, as it’s travelled all the way down New Mexico by the time it reaches El Paso. By the time it hits the Gulf, it’s carrying significant pollutants from a long way.

    I haven’t lived there in years, so I don’t know the statue to which you referred to, but I’m guessing it’s for Coronado. Francisco Coronado was a 16th century Spanish conquistador who, like so many of his fellows, really did a number on the native people in the desert Southwest. He was traveling through Mexico, Texas, Kansas, and New Mexico in search of Cibola, a “city of gold,” and along the way claiming territory and people for Spain. It’s interesting, though, in that he never actually made it to El Paso del Norte, an area prized as a snow-free winter pass through the long line of Rocky Mountains that includes the Sangre de Cristos in New Mexico, the Sandia Mountains in New Mexico, the Organ Mountains in New Mexico, and the Franklin Mountains in Texas. It’s no wonder there were significant protests about a statue (if, in fact, the statue was for Coronado).

    As a final note, if Gore Vidal’s given up on Texas, and other areas of the United States, that’s fine, and Mr. Vidal’s prerogative. I haven’t. There are many in Texas who haven’t, just like there are many across this country that haven’t given up on things like separation of church and state, the integrity of the U.S. Constitution, and development of better education in science, art, and the humanities for the nation. So I’ll say it again: instead of boiling over at the thought of Texas or whichever region most makes you cringe at its history of social policy blunders, come join us, or help out in your own geographic location, wherever that may be. This nation only works if folks are trying to help out. Countless school boards across the country could use more atheists on board to keep the religious zealots in check.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • cipher

    Robert,

    The statue was of a man named Onate. It was just erected within the past year (http://thelastconquistador.com/lastconquistador/lastconquistadorhome.html).

  • Ron in Houston

    Cipher

    Touche. Very funny!

  • RobertP

    Ridiculous. They could have at least thinly veiled this in classes called “history of the middle east” or something to that effect….

  • Desert Son

    Thanks, cipher

    Juan de Oñate – famous for, among other things, amputating one foot off of every man over age 25 in the Acoma sky-city pueblo in northwest-central New Mexico. No wonder there were protests.

    Thanks for the clarification.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • cipher

    Juan de Oñate – famous for, among other things, amputating one foot off of every man over age 25 in the Acoma sky-city pueblo in northwest-central New Mexico. No wonder there were protests.

    That’s why the Native American community was outraged. They were carrying signs that said, “Onate? My Foot!” John Houser, the artist, admitted afterward that he “should have anticipated” their reaction. To his credit, he was the only person in the statue camp who was willing to engage them once the protests started, but he worked on it for ten years, and, apparently, it never once occurred to him that there was any moral conflict. It turns out that his father was one of the artists who worked on Mt. Rushmore, which, as you probably know, is an abomination in the eyes of the Lakota people, so apparently he grew up in an environment of insensitivity to the concerns of Native Americans.

    He’s supposedly working now on a monument to the Native Americans that will be even larger than the statue of Onate, but, of course, he’ll never get the funding. He’s in a colossal state of denial; it’s just how he’s dealing with the guilt.

    The only reason I brought it up was because we were talking about Texas, and I was curious about the cultural climate in El Paso. As I said, the attitude of the people pushing for the statue was astonishing; it really was like something out of an old newsreel. Excellent documentary, by the way. I’d recommend seeing it if they rebroadcast it, or when it comes out on DVD.

  • cipher

    I just noticed this:

    I recently read a book called “The Bloody Shirt: Terror after Appomattox” that argues that even though the south lost the “War Between the States,” they have been winning the cultural battle ever since. (NB: As the Democratic convention gets ready to commence with a non-denominational prayer….we are beginning to bow to the religious pressure from the right and moderates.)

    Blue,

    There has been, from the beginning, an antagonism between North and South that I don’t think will ever be resolved. It’s been over two hundred years, and we still can’t get our act together. When this nation was founded, Europe as a whole was way behind us in terms of basic human rights; now, they’ve so far surpassed us that it’s a disgrace. I don’t think that we could even manage to function in the way the EU does – as a confederation of loosely affiliated states with different cultures united for economic purposes. We’ll never be able to emerge from our “Dark Ages” in the way that they did. We’re too selfish; we suffer, individually and collectively, from a sense of entitlement and we’re obsessed with the idea of our “rightness”. I really think we’re finished as a world power – and we deserve to be.

  • TXatheist

    As someone who grew up in the north, was stationed in San Diego and chose to move to Texas I have one thing to say ” Do mess with Texas”. I say that because stubbornness is a huge problem in Texas and that darn slogan is part of the problem. It makes a drastic presumption that Texas is just fine and don’t change anything. Austin may be liberal compared to other parts of Texas but that’s not saying much. It’s because UT is here mostly and young adults challenge the status-quo. It’s also because so much of Austin is Californiated(transplants). I also never really cared that I was from the great state of Illinois until I got here and some pompous texan called this the great state of texas and realized it was a big deal to them. I just thought the civil war was the end of confederate pride but I was wrong.

  • Desert Son

    TXatheist,

    I also live in Austin now. I think your comment goes right to the heart of much regionalism (or tribalism) prevalent in the South (though it is prevalent everywhere, just ask Northern and Southern Californians, or Kansans/Missourians, or Vermonters/New Hampshirites, New Yorkers and everyone else, etc.). It’s why I was asking for help in Texas, instead of more ire. Places can change, but it takes a tremendous will of the people to do so. Always has. Regardless, as many other posters have noted in this thread, and as I’ve thought for years, the U.S. Civil War rages on, no longer on grassy fields with canister shot and Minié balls, but in the hearts of many people nonetheless. Over 90 years between emancipation and Brown v. Board of Education, as just one example among many, is proof enough.

    John Wilkes Booth thought he was doing the South a great service. In fact, he probably dealt it one of it’s most horrific blows by assassinating Lincoln (though we’ll obviously never know), who’s aim was to “restore the Union” and reunite the nation in fidelity. The post-Lincoln nation wanted to punish the South for the war, and the long-term economic implications remain to this day, though the Reconstruction is a complicated topic fraught with many variables of outcome, circumstance, intent, and sentiment. Confederate pride and the stubbornness you cite has become cemented in so many areas. UT Austin’s campus alone still hosts statues of Robert E. Lee and Jefferson Davis, to name just two.

    I believe very much that war had to be fought. I wonder to this day what might have been different about our nation’s history if Lincoln had lived to serve out a second term.

    No kings,

    Robert

  • Desert Son

    I wrote:

    dealt it one of it’s most horrific blows

    Chagrined, I now wish to humbly submit an “its” in the place of “it’s”. Possessive, not contraction.

    No kings,

    Robert


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